At the moment, there is a lot of conversation around women at work and how they’re significantly underrepresented in the industry in many different countries. For example, in America, 5% of tech industry ownership is women, which is even smaller for black women across the world studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) related courses at university at only 2.9%.

From this, it’s reasonable to ask—what about women in business?

In positive news, it would appear that there are more women entering business than ever before, which is surprising considering the statistics reported from other international industries like STEM. For example, the number of global female entrepreneurs has increased more than 10 per cent each year. According to Karen Quintos, chief customer officer at Dell, women are equally as likely or more likely to start a business than men.

However, is there general bias and inequality that is driving women to entrepreneurship in comparison to their male counterparts? According to a 2018 report, primary reasons that drove this included:
• Women are typically primary caregivers and are in need of more flexibility to either care for their young children or ageing parents
• So they can charge their own rates and handle their own online accounting and invoicing in order to overcome the gender pay gap
• To escape the glass ceiling that is having promotions passed over them in favour of male colleagues

Irish businesswomen

In 2018, Mastercard reported that only 20.1 per cent of Irish business owners were women, placing Ireland 40th out of 57, relatively low considering the World Bank reports Europe is the second highest region behind Africa for female entrepreneurship.

That being said, last year, the Irish Times reported that Ireland has improved on gender equality according to accounting firm PwC, with the largest gain in women in the workplace. PwC’s Women in Work Index, which assesses female representation and welfare in the world of work, ranked Ireland and Sweden as the two top-performing countries followed by New Zealand.

The overall report found that increasing the number of women across the OECD region could boost total gross domestic product by $6 trillion and could gain $2 trillion by closing the gender pay gap.

Women may continue to make huge progression towards equality in business, however, research exhibits that only one in nine CEOs in Irish business are women, an incredibly low statistic unaligned with global rates which are still considerably unequal. Very few women are CEOs of the world’s largest corporations. In Fortune’s 2019 list, only 33 women (6.6 per cent) were CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Furthermore, women account for less than a third (29 per cent) of senior roles globally.

The growing gender pay gap

In March this year, it was reported that the gender pay gap in Ireland is widening instead of closing, rising from 5.9 per cent in 2017 to 7.5 per cent in 2018.

Women in general are socialised to feel negatively about their gender through bias in education and general societal expectations internalised as low confidence and fear of failure. Men are raised to be leaders, not men, and can be perceived undesirably in terms of work when assertive and confident. This can cause women to feel afraid to ask for deserved pay rises.

What we want

Firstly, when women are successful in business, it drives economic growth. That is a fact.

Secondly, it’s becoming important for successful women to be able to tell their story to give budding entrepreneurs someone to look up to and aspire to be like, particularly in male-dominated sectors, through education reform.

Education reform has been effective in encouraging girls in UK schools to pursue STEM-related subjects, with A-level material including successful women in the industry, which was linked to 2019’s influx of female students. Is this something Ireland needs?

There are initiatives that have been created to encourage female business owners and the economic advancement of women in developing countries.

Funding that can help you

In July this year, Enterprise Ireland opened two new €1m funds targeted for female entrepreneurs, offering up to €50,000 to drive women’s economic empowerment with finance. According to the Local Enterprise Office, approximately 1,000 women in Ireland start a business every month, which has hopefully helped many women find their feet in the world of entrepreneurship. Although this ended on August 18th, it’s important to keep your eyes peeled and do your research to find out what schemes you can take advantage of. Enterprise Ireland is a useful online resource for funding.

Deloitte Women’s Mentorship Programme helps women break down barriers by hosting events, attracting and retaining talented women while providing a platform for likeminded women to connect and seek advice and further mentoring—the more women in business, the less discrimination.

Acorns is an excellent programme aimed at early-stage female entrepreneurs who live in rural Ireland.

In a challenging economic landscape, it’s important to help create jobs and support each other in our goals—striving for gender equality is an important steppingstone.

Author's Bio: 

QuickBooks is a global company offering the world's leading accountancy software. To find out more, visit: